Save Money On LEGO: Here's how to build more kits with what you already own

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 By Ed

LEGO is not the cheapest toy out there.  In fact, it is often one of the most expensive - even compared to electronic toys and video game systems.  It seems more at home in boutique toy stores where the toys make your kids smarter and are made of recycled hemp.

So why would we write about LEGO on a frugal blog?

Well, to begin with: we love it.  Both of us played with Lego as a kids when, we can only assume, it was also one of the more expensive toys.

The second reason:  LEGO is actually a frugal toy because it never dies...

We've also figured out how to make more of the awesome LEGO kits, without having to buy any more pieces. 

 Lego can never die because 

it is the ultimate toy shape shifter.  


    Frugal Reasons to Love LEGO:


    The first, and most obvious, reason for this is that it is a building toy.  

    Kids can build whatever they are interested in at any given time.  While other Star Wars toys can only ever be Star Wars toys, Lego Star Wars can evolve into camping (Canopies and wings turn into tents), family play (the characters can have babies and build an Empire-free life together) or pretty much anything else.  If a trend goes out of style, Lego moves on.

    The next great, frugal thing about Lego is that it is designed to last.

    Every kit made since 1958 will work with current bricks sold today Thank you, LEGO for respecting the consumer!  Can you think of another toy (except maybe books) with that sort of track record?

    Most of our current Lego belonged to my brother and I when we were kids - much of it is over 25 years old.  Add a couple small kits from something current (say Harry Potter or SpongeBob) and it refreshes the whole lot.

    Finally, Lego provides digital versions of thousands of kit instructions.  

    This is our most recent discovery.  You've got to check out this library of LEGO Building InstructionsIt is free to search, view and print, so that your existing Lego kits can take on even more life.

    Also, this may help alleviate the concern that if you lose instructions, you can never rebuild models you currently own.

    We played a bit at this in the last 24 hours.  My son found some Star Wars mini kits in his giant LEGO Star Wars: The Visual Dictionary book. (This updated one is even more amazing!)  This book is well worn and loved, but we had never tried this before.

    How to Find and Make any Lego Kit:

    1.  Find the kit number (4-5 digits) that relates to the Lego model you desire.  

    I screened his choices with a quick visual once over to see if we had most of the required parts.  All three models featured in this post were "Reverse-Engineered" in this way.

    2.  Next, go to Lego.com Building Instructions and drop the kit number in the Quick-Finder.  


    There are other ways to search, but this proved the most fool-proof.  We pulled the instructions up on a screen to save the print-paper and dove into our Lego-Stash to build.

    3.  You will likely find that your kit-hack is missing some parts that the real one has.  

    Lego does feature some speciality pieces in nearly every kit, and colour will likely be an issue too.  No big deal.  The instructions are just jumping off points and once the ball is rolling, creativity will take over.

    I tweaked the wings on the X-wing to work with parts we had/I could actually find.  Our son added the wing-tip guns that he found more "realistic".  I think the model is better for it.

    Our daughter built most of this Slave-1 model herself, making her own adjustments on the fly.  The end product still looked mostly like the real model, but had way more personality.

    Gold wing mounts?  Boba Fett should be so lucky.

    What toys from your childhood do your kids play with today?  What LEGO kit are you going to hack now?


    1. Living in a house with a lot of Lego....I must say this is the best post yet. Thank you!!!

      My son loves Lego!!! and although expensive it is definitely the best toy investment that we have made.

      It's not with out controversy though. My wife feels that he has enough Lego and because of the unlimited possibilities, she may be right. However; in my way of thinking, there is no such thing as TOO MUCH LEGO!!!!

      Thanks again!!!

    2. I'd side with you Chris - more Lego is always better. Unless, I guess, it is all over the floor and you are picking your way through the room in bare feet. I still think I'd take more Lego.
      Glad you liked the post,


    3. Thank you SO MUCH for this. My father in law gave us a HUGE box of mixed building toys, but MOSTLY legos. WE WERE THRILLED, until we had to divide them up evenly between both boys and the biggest boy (I couldn't believe that he had to have his OWN). My youngest is only 4.5 but has fell in love with legos. When his little box ended up almost over flowing, I was so concerned that he would get blocked with what to build with all these odds and ends from incomplete sets. But I was wrong. But now, with this new concept, both (all three) boys will never stop playing with their legos. (on second thought, maybe I shouldn't have shared this with them, LOL). Thank you again!

      1. So glad this has been helpful for you and your boys, Kimi! Lego is such a fabulous toy, isn't it? Our house is often littered with it, but watching the creativity and engineering is fun ( and builds brains)! Thanks for your comment - it means a lot to us. :)

    4. We have a plastic storage bin (a large one) full of Legos from the 80s. They are all mixed up. We have no boxes or even any idea what kits we had. Can you suggest how we might begin putting kits together for our grandson. He is 5.

      1. I would start by visiting Lego.com and checking out the instruction finder. Try searching by category; Lego City, Space and Castles/Knights have all been around for a while and you will likely see some simple kits there to get started.
        Print off a few instruction sets and see if you can build any of the kits using what you have. Much of our Lego was from the 80's as well and even though the online search only goes back to the mid 90's, you will still find some simple kits (like this one: http://cache.lego.com/bigdownloads/buildinginstructions/4129365.pdf) that should work for you. Since your Grandson is only 5, keep the kits small and simple for now to minimize frustration and then add complexity as he grows. You may want to start with a small store bought kit that is in an area of interest for him then once he builds it say, "if you thought that was fun, look at this big box of Lego over here!" Or something like that.
        Hope this helps and thanks for reading.

    5. if you know the set # of the builds that you already have, you can use rebrickable.com to find more too!


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